Snapping out of it
Raiders finally returned to the Coliseum, after not playing a home game since September 15th. And after suffering a couple of close losses on the back end of their road trip, they managed to end the losing streak and improve to 4-4. It was a closely fought game vs the Lions with a goal-line stand in the last seconds of the game that eventually confirmed the win. Karl Joseph was glued to Logan Thomas in the back of the end zone and deflected the pass that was intended for the big tight end on the last pass of the game.
The defense didn't have the best game overall. They allowed way too many yards. Detroit moved the ball on them at will, but plays like that one and Worley intercepting the pass in the end zone were the ones that changed the course of the game. Offensively, they stayed true to their identity. Being physical up front, running the ball with Josh Jacobs and spreading the ball around in the passing game, depending on a situation and the matchup.
Two weeks ago in Chicago, Chargers were a field goal away from falling to 2-6 and season going down the drain. But luckily for them, Pineiro missed that 41-yarder. The following week, they decided to cut ties with offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt because the offense wasn't playing well. it failed to produce a 40+ yard runner in four consecutive games. They promoted QB coach Shene Steichen and we already saw some improvement vs Green Bay on Sunday.
They ran the ball better and they were trying to get the ball to their playmakers in the passing game. Getting Russel Okung back to protect Rivers' blindside obviously helped as well. On the other side of the ball, Ingram and Bosa completely wrecked the game. Rodgers was under a lot of pressure throughout the game, so he couldn't wait for some routes to develop and consequently failed to get the passing game going.
Raiders vs Chargers best bet
That matchup on the edges will once again be the key for the Chargers' defense. Trent Brown is a much better right tackle then Brian Bulaga, so I don't expect Joey Bosa to camp in the backfield as he did vs the Packers. But unfortunately for the Raiders, Trent Brown is questionable for this game. He is dealing with the knee injury for couple of weeks now and it forced him out of the game against Detroit. To make the matters worse, center Rodney Hudson is also questionable. He was expected to be out for several weeks after being carted off in Houston. But he managed to squeeze in a limited practice session on Tuesday. I still doubt that he'll be in there on a short week. Rookie Andre James should draw another start in his absence and he had a rough one last time out with 3-4 wild snaps.
How does that impact the Raiders offense? Well, missing two key players on the OL definitely hurts their ability to run the ball in the first place. But also, it forcess them to gameplan for those tough matchups on the edges in pass protection, probably forcing Gruden to call more short passes with quick sets for his tackles. Getting the ball out of Carr's hands fast and try to move the chains gradually.
Speaking of traditional markets, I'm leaning Chargers and the under in this spot. Will not lock anything in for the moment, because of the feeling that the lines could improve later. Under might be a weird choice for some, considering that most of the Raiders games were hitting 50 recently. And I think they will once again allow a lot of yards through the air. Their defense is very aggressive, but their cover guys outside of Daryl Worley weren't doing great job lately and Chargers have plenty of pass catchers that will take advantage of that. But 49 is a pretty high number, for two offenses that are running a pretty slow pace. Both Carr and Rivers love to take a look at what defenses are showing and make last second changes at the line of scrimmage. It often takes all 40 seconds off the clock. Raiders like to run the ball anyway, and run-oriented offenses are always good for unders, because the clock keeps running. And unlike previous games, I doubt that they'll be able to build on that rushing success with some passes downfield. Not only because Brown and Hudson might be out, but also because Matt Patricia exposed their offense a little bit. He called zone defense a lot on third downs, disrupting all those crossing patterns and pick plays that Raiders like to do in those situations. I bet Chargers will be ready to do the same.
And on the other side, Bolts did ran the ball better last week. But I'm not sure that the new coordinator managed to solve that one over the night. He is still working with a mediocre Feeney-Quessenberyy-Schoefield interior like Wisenhunt, so the success might have something to do with Packers' poor run defense. Raiders, on the other hand, are a Top 7 in that segment, allowing only 3.8 yards per carry. That might cause Los Angeles to play behind the chains often and get them in some 3rd & longs which will help Oakland's pass defense get some stops.
The play that I'm locking in right now is Tyrell Williams under receiving yards. He is facing his former team, so people might be eager about betting him over because of the motivation etc. That would be a mistake imho. He was forced into the No.1 reciver role after that Antonio Brown fiasco, but he is not really a go-to guy. He is more of a donwfield threat, but it will be difficult to get him the ball with Ingram and Bosa charging at Carr and Casey Haywared draped all over Williams. He also struggled with some drops this season.